A blood donor’s travel tale

A prickly pear cactus cocktail at the newly restored 84-year-old Rosewood Hotel Georgia is not a suitable replacement for four pints of blood.

A new lease on life for the Hotel Georgia

Does passing out at a landmark boutique hotel at cocktail hour qualify as a class act? I’m hoping for an overwhelming “Yes!” vote on this one.

It would complement the nine ‘cosmetic’ stitches embroidering my forehead, the tensor-secured cast on my right arm, and my bruised ego.

Donating a pint of Scotland’s vintage A Rh-positive to Canadian Blood Services four times a year is a ritual for me.

“Thank you for saving a life,” a smiling RN said after my 30th donation at Murrayville Hall last Tuesday.

“No problem,” I chirped, heading for the complimentary Peek Freans and mango juice. I’m also a regular clinic volunteer, so the take-it-easy-this-afternoon-and-remember-to-rehydrate speech went in one ear and out the other.

By 6 p.m. I’m admiring the fine old wood, grand staircase, and inviting elegance of the newly restored 84-year-old Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

Originally Vancouver’s iconic Georgia Hotel, I saunter around imagining Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Laurence Olivier and assorted royalty sweeping in decades ago.

Perfectly situated facing the Vancouver Art Gallery and tucked securely into great city shopping, the famous former guests would find the chocolate and blue accented suites larger, and the ornate white Spanish Ballroom perfect for impressing major movie moguls.

Taking a quick gander at the featured fare and surprising affordable prices on the Hawksworth dinner menu, I adjourn to the South Arizona Tourism reception in the Lancaster Room.

Oblivious to the fact that a light lunch salad, no fluids, a few canapés, and pink Prickly Pear Cactus Cocktail cannot replace a pint of blood siphoned off four hours earlier, yours truly began to feel the heat.

Queasy and undeniably light headed – I suddenly remember the Langley Blood Donor Clinic, and my training. Commandeering the nearest chair I literally hang my head (in shame, if you insist). Remember that old saying – too little, too late?

Momentarily recovered, I head for the loo, and … to be precise … hit the wall in a dead faint.

Hotel first aid attendants and travel press colleagues spring to the rescue. This wasn’t the famous Rosewood ‘impeccable service’ I had on my agenda.

Chalk up my first stretcher ride (despite protestations), first faint, and the discovery that St. Paul’s Hospital is only a short ambulance ride (another first) from the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

Despite poor PR leveled at B.C. Medical Services, ambulance attendants, doctors, and staff at St. Paul’s Emergency couldn’t be more efficient, or personable. Management might consider cranking up the heat a bit though, or renaming that old landmark St. Paul’s of the Arctic.

Only when my son – grinning widely – snapping a shot of my ‘sports injury’, does it occur to me that Derek has cheerfully realized that there is such a thing as poetic justice. He is rescuing me from a hospital. For the first time in 38 years the stitches are on the other head!

The moral of this story is: please donate blood, don’t party after donating, and do check out Vancouver’s newest old favourite the Rosewood Hotel Georgia – but (sorry Frank) don’t do it my way.

– Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is a writer and photographer noted for some things – but not passing out at parties.

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